tv Hardball Weekend MSNBC February 18, 2012 2:00am-2:30am PST
guys. guys talking with other guys about having babies or not having other babies. newsflash, men don't have babies. it's driving away voters, especially women voters. plus, rick santorum surge is serious enough now that the obama campaign is thinking of taking him on. team obama doesn't want to elevate santorum but they're getting a head start on operation research to portray him as a fringe figure out of touch with americans. motown or no town. headlines like this one. "let detroit go bankrupt." now he's making matters worse by try i trying to get outright wing santorum. is this any way to win a michigan primary? what happens in november if either guy wins?
tea parties have seemed to have sprung a leak. are they a governing party or permanent protest party? a friend of this show and a colleague of mine for years, pat buchanan. we begin with the fight over birth control and how republican men might be reaching for trouble, especially woman trouble. michael steele is chairman of the republican party. both are msnbc political analysts. i see the smile on my colleague's face and therefore, even though she's wearing green at least a month ahead of time, which is appropriate for my friend, joan, and i would expect a month celebration for st. p paddy's day. >> absolutely. >> speak loudly and clear ly to what the republicans are doing to the potential of even getting a smidgen of women's support. >> democrats lost certain groups
of women in 2010, chris. they're coming back in droves. i think we have just seen -- we've had so many great -- this debate over contraception it really brought home to women that, wow, the affordable care act really pays for my contraception without a co-pay? people didn't know that. that's a great benefit to a lot of women. this is terrifying. i think that the terry schiavo moment is very, very apt. president bush had won re-election, republicans looked very strong and suddenly they're marching into a woman's bedroom, coming back from vacation and passing laws and they make very palpable what democrats complain about, that they want to intrude in our personal lives. suddenly, people really saw what that meant. i think that's happening again with contraception, with that ridiculous hearing yesterday and with our friend, foster freese
and the aspirin. most people are too young to understand what that's about. it's hilarious. >> i'm not too young or too old. i don't even know what he's talking about. he said back in my day. what day was it? was this before "gunsmoke" and "i love lucy" at least. michael steele for the defense. guess who's out there paying chaplain the day they did the schiavo vote, voted unanimous consent to go ahead and intervene in a family matter involving a woman on a respirator. the whole situation we're now aware of. a very sad case for a woman there, young woman dying at that aimin age. >> stuck in the craw for a lot of those around the country because they believe that government has no place in the personal health care. which was the crux of our argument against obama care in the first place.
this situation is a little bit worse than schiavo. at least you had some woman who understood and probably would be with the party's position in terms of wanting to have the family make this choice or that choice. but here, this is much more personal to every woman. and so now you have the party or at least certain voices out there that have moved this off of the conversation that it was, i think, rightly on, on the role of church and state. the freedom of church and religion. now you're talking about the type of course, resource they have. now you need to get off this conversation, move off this message right now. >> have you got anything hard on this -- any data you can find on this, polling? >> i've seen some early polling from inside a number of campaigns that is not pretty.
>> they're moving away from our leading candidates, santorum and romney, around this issue. and they have to figure out a way to stop the bleeding and retrack the conversation about the economy and other things that women are more concerned about than having a bunch of men sit down and decide what their health issues should be. >> they keep doubling down. >> they want to know about this -- keep people from having birth control as part of their lives. >> right. >> especially in modern day. we all know the situation. i want to go to this. as we pointed yesterday, michael and joan, no women were present at first panel at the house oversight hearing. and democratic senators made their anger about that slight very clear. >> they held a hearing on the administration's decision to ensure that women have access to affordable contraception, but guess who was missing -- the women. >> for millions of american women, reading the news this
morning was like stepping into a time machine and going back 50 years, seeing the headlines and the photos of an all-male panel in the house, talking about a woman's right to access birth control. >> when will they get this simple, nondebatable fact? the power to decide whether or not women will use contraception lies with her, not her boss, not her employer. >> let's go on to this issue. it seems to me, in all fairness, joan, you and i had a different perspective on this. i don't think different values but different perspective about the way this matter was proceeding a week ago. then it changedment once the president laid down what he considered to be an important distinction, not whether women needed full health care, including birth control, part of the package but whether it infringed on what the catholic church felt was their domain, what they had to sign their name to.
they said you don't have to sign your name to it. the insurance company will take care of that. hen henceforth, you would think they would push forwa-- pull back. but they pushed forward. >> certain catholics who felt very strong about it, that was their point. once that accommodation was reached and you had catholic charities and catholic association applauding it, chris, you saw republicans whose real problem is contraception, not just the freedom of religion issue. >> how could that be -- >> double down. i don't know. >> i don't think it is. but, quite honestly -- look, we're forgetting another major player here in this process. that was the obama political operation, which i think did a wonderful job of shifting the dynamics of this conversation and focusing it around the issue of contraception. that is a much more, how shall we say, explosive conversation
to have for the gop than the one they were having. >> that's what it really was about, michael. >> i think we can clear the air here. i may not be fair here, but in an interview last october, not a million years ago, this past october, rick santorum was running head to head for the republican administration, talked about what he called the dangers of contraception. let's listen. >> one thing i will talk about that no other canndidate will talk about is the dangers of contraception. contraception is okay. it's not okay. it's a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to what -- how things are supposed to be. they're supposed to be for purposes that, yes, conjugal but also procreative. and that's the perfect way that
the sexual union should happen. >> where are we going, sherman? all the way back to 1953, debating contraception. >> my view on that is there's a reason why no presidential candidate or president has talked about this issue before, because the church itself has not talked about this. >> i haven't heard a sermon on this since the '50s. >> no. rick santorum's surge is real and now the obama campaign is considering taking him on down the road. they may have to fight this guy come november. they're getting ready. they don't want to get too ready. because in a weird way, i think they want him to be the nominee. not a weird way. common sense way. you're watching "hardball" on msnbc.
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welcome back to "hardball." e eyes on rick santorum now, rise in the polls, so steep you can now see santorum is ahead of romney in four national polls, but narrowly. further west, another campaign is also intently watching santorum, team obama is following the new frontrunner, weighing into whether to jump into this fight and who rick santorum is. do they sense a threat? perhaps. john demartin is politico's senior political writer. i don't want to jump ahead in this story. i think they think they're still probably facing romney. is that correct? >> they still think they're probably facing romney and he's still the stronger candidate against barack obama but hard to
ignore the fact that rick santorum has won four states and now is leading in these national polls. >> are they rooting for san t santorum? the other night in chicago, axelrod and those guys, are they basically saying, come on, rick? >> they've seen, though, the vulnerabilities that mitt romney is displaying. >> who has more? >> rick santorum is a more target-rich environment. >> his rap sheet -- >> for a general election, absolutely. >> problem with women and gays. his rap sheet is -- >> the obama path, they think, is to go in states like nevada, colorado, so-called enclaves of upscale suburbanites who don't have cultural baggage, who are not hard core partisans, moved away from the gop in the last six years.
santorum is a nominee, that's a good contrast for president obama. >> that's a bonus. >> yeah. >> does rick pick up -- just to make his case, does he pick up the reagan democrats? >> that's the other side of the argument, chris. exactly right. would santorum be a tougher candidate than romney. >> older people once voted democrat are now picking up republican. >> tougher in ohio, pennsylvania, michigan, because he has that cultural down market appeal in a way that romney has proven again and again in the primary he has not. >> who has run the better campaign? santorum has no money, no endorsements. >> he's coming off an 18-point loss in pennsylvania. >> six years ago. >> exactly. yet he's leading the national field, did well in those two states. sometimes the most rational analysis doesn't fit the way the politics actually work. >> let's look at "the wall street journal." not its opinion columns but news. quote, mr. santorum doesn't come with the type of political
baggage that gingrich had, said one obama adviser. he has the ability to go farther and much more likely to be a potential nominee. direct i directing attacks against mr. santorum is under discussion at the headquarters in chicago, he added. it doesn't sound like they're moving very fast. >> no. >> my hunch is that they want santorum to do all the damage he can, right? >> exactly. >> rough up romney. maybe at best beat him. but at least rough him up as much as possible between now and tampa. >> and drag it well into the spring, if not the summer. i think the posture right now is, go, rick, go. they want him to do well in michigan. michigan is an open primary. democrats can vote there. they are going to have to say that they are republicans at the polling place, but they can show up there and vote. if a couple thousand democrats show up in michigan, i think it could help. >> the country is dropping the debates like flies. the cnn debate is now dead down there.
wouldn't everybody like to see a mano-e-mano between santorum and romney now? just the two of them. let them go at it. the cultural conservative and the sort of weirdly detached presence of mitt romney and santorum. >> reporters would like that and santorum would like that. i don't know if the nation is hoping for this kind of debate. maybe. >> are you on my side or are you working against me here? >> i think if newt does fade here -- >> you know that thing in austin powers where the seat disappears? we need santorum. we love this guy. >> but if newt does fade hard here, i think you'll see a one on one-type campaign where there will be pressure to do more debates because you'll have, like you said, a mano-e-mano-style campaign. whoever is losing is going to be pushing for february debates. if santorum makes a move, you'll see romney call for more debates and vice versa. >> let's take a look at the president. he's still in this race. he's willing to make his fight. here he is in washington today fighting for the 99%. he's still thinking romney is the opponent.
mr. 1%. >> right. >> he'd like to put that on his bowling shirt, right, if he ever went -- >> bowling shirt? >> ever went to a bowling alley. excuse me, mitt romney. let's listen. i don't think so. >> we have a choice right now. we can either settle for a country where a few people do really well and everybody else is struggling, or we can restore an economy where everybody gets a fair shot. and everybody does their fair share. and everybody plays by the same set of rules from washington to wall street to main street. everybody is doing their part. >> the campaign has started. >> i'm loving this. i think he's really beginning to feel like this presidential office fits him. it fits him well. the role he's playing in history right now of being the pop will you say leader against what he sees as sort of the reactionary party of the elite, he seems very happy right now. that man looks happy. i never thought he was populist until recently. >> he's trying the suit on now. >> doesn't it seem to fit him?
>> i think he's engaged now. for a while, he seemed a little -- talk about being detached, he seemed a little detached from some of the things you need to do in a campaign. he's totally engaged in that now. >> columbia and harvard law are not the little kids -- the state university. but yet he's adapted and coming off like the middle class guy and the middle class champion. that's what he's doing. >> what's better news for him is the economic indicators that are coming out. today up 0.4%. sign after sign that the economy is recovering. and in time this year to do him some good. >> how does romney complain about this guy's economic performance when the stock market is back up to 13,000 practically, where it's back up before this thing they created in '0 and '09? >> because you can point to the fact that more and more people in the workforce have stopped looking for a job. >> but the markets, they are richer.
all the people that voted republican have more money thanks to obama. >> well, but a lot of those folks are voting for democrats now. >> if this was happening under w., he would be jumping up and down in the end zone. >> you'll see that in the months ahead. things are turning around. it's morning again in america. you'll hear that message time and time again from obama. >> thank you, susan page and jonathan martin. romney is trying to look like an average joe. that's a pathetic effort. now he's telling a new story involving pink nail polish. trees are just the right height. he's talking nail polish. severely conservative. he can't learn the idiom of our language. you're watching "hardball" on msnbc.
popularity, however, thanks to his average joe persona, romney is doing what he can to step it up in that arena. yesterday, romney let an ohio crowd in on a story he said he kept under wraps until that very moment. let's listen. >> you know where elyria, ohio, is. there was a young lady who i had once spent some time with. she decided to marry a fellow. it was a perfect wedding. they had little bottles of shocking pink nail polish so all the bridesmaids had the same nail polish. i found the groom's shoes he rented. i took some of that shocking pink nail polish and i wrote something on the bottom of his shoes. the minister gave a beautiful service. then he said, let us pray and the couple knelt down. slowly but surely, people ahead of us began to shake a little bit and point up at the shoes. in bright pink letters it said h-e-l-p on the bottom of his shoes. i haven't seen a crowd in ohio
rock like this since then. i want to thank you for that warm welcome. >> it's painful. this is romney's problem. he doesn't know what to say to people. this one is going to be the moment of the week. luis gutierrez thinks newt gingrich is trying to speak for catholics when he bashes the decision on contraception coverage. he sees more than a few ironies with that one. he channeled his disbelief with this rift against newt on the house floor yesterday. let's watch. >> if newt gingrich can speak for american catholics, then it's true. in america, anything is possible. maybe charlie sheen can become the spokesperson for the temperance movement. lebron james can be in charge of the cleveland chamber of commerce and the cast of "jersey shore" can lead a national campaign for manners, humility and modesty. if newt gingrich can do it, why can't they? in fact, if newt gingrich can do it, why can't i? this is me with senator bill
bradley. he's over 6'6" and i'm barely 5'6". he's noticed the difference and has given me a friendly kiss on the top of my head. i'm pleased to announce today if newt gingrich can speak for all catholics, i'm going to speak for all tall people. >> i think the gentleman from illinois made his point. he certainly did. [ male announcer ] say goodbye to "ho-hum,"